The GI Cancer Institute’s Innovation Fund is an annual grant awarded to researchers who want to study the many unanswered questions about gastro-intestinal cancers. The Innovation Fund is supported by our donors as well as the funds raised through the Gusty Challenge. It provides researchers with the opportunity to conduct ground-breaking research in areas that have not been studied before.
These studies have the potential to provide insight on the best ways to treat people with cancer in order to improve their life expectancy and quality of life.
An update on our previous Innovation Fund studies
2015: DOCTOR genomics study and ‘Fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) family amplification and overexpression as biomarkers of Regorafenib response in gastric cancer’
Two studies were funded in 2015 that have both revealed promising results.
The first study was the DOCTOR genomics study, which was an extension of a larger trial. This study looked at the genetics of tumour samples collected from people with oesophageal cancer to find out the genetic factors determining why some people relapsed. It also investigated why some people responded better to treatment than other people.
The second study, titled ‘Fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) family amplification and overexpression as biomarkers of Regorafenib response in gastric cancer’, investigated the most effective drug for fighting advanced stomach cancers. This study found that some cancers were fought more effectively than others by the drug regorafenib. Those cancers contained more of a protein called FGFR. The results of this study were so promising that the researchers were able to secure a grant for a larger three-year study.
In 2016, the Innovation Fund was awarded to Dr Matthew Burge for the MONARCC trial, which opened to recruitment this month. MONARCC is looking at the best treatments for elderly patients with colorectal cancer. Most of the existing research on colorectal cancer has examined how chemotherapy treatments affect younger patients. This is a gap in research, as colorectal cancer is a disease of the elderly – the risk of colorectal cancer mortality increases with age with a one in 54 chance of diagnosis in people aged up to 85 years.
The 2017 grant was awarded to the RENO study which is currently in development. RENO was developed by Professor Chris Karapetis after he saw a patient with metastatic colorectal cancer. The patient asked to watch and wait to see if their cancer continued to progress before undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Professor Karapetis realised that no research had been done on the feasibility of this approach, and was inspired to develop the RENO study as a result.
Image: Professor Chris Karapetis accepting the Innovation Fund grant from GI Cancer Institute Chair, Professor Tim Price.